Saturday, February 6, 2010

Good Grief - Word Association

I think most of my regular blog readers know that my Dad, who is only 59 yrs old, is in the late stages of Alzheimer's Disease. Watching a loved one slowly slip away from you emotionally and cognitively while they remain (for the most part) physically intact creates a very difficult and unique grieving process. In reality, the amazing man who raised me is already gone and has been gone for quite some time. I mean sure - there's an unresponsive, agitated, incontinent, grumpy, anxious, weird-smelling, detached man who essentially looks exactly like the man who raised me - but trust me, that is NOT the man who raised me. However, I'm finding it harder and harder to remember that amazing man who was my father and instead when I think of my Dad, I first think of THIS difficult person. And that is my greatest fear - that all of my wonderful childhood memories will slowly be replaced with memories of this person that Alzheimer's Disease has left us with. And I had a pretty kick-ass childhood in great part because I had such a kick-ass Dad!! I don't want to forget that.

So when I discovered the Good Grief blog - a scrapbooking journey through loss and healing - and their scrapbooking challenges related to helping you scrapbook and journal about a loved one you have lost, I decided this might be just what I need to help me deal with the roller coaster of emotions I am experiencing as I watch my father quickly decline. And hopefully, this will help me hold on to more of those happy memories and not dwell so much on what's happening now. And yeah, I realize technically my Dad isn't DEAD, but for all intents and purposes my Dad is already gone, ya know?

So anyway, I hope you all are OK with me sharing my Good Grief creations here every now and then. These will be my "Therapeutic Posts"! LOL. So here goes my first Good Grief Challenge...

February's challenge is to Use Word Association. That's it. Open to plenty of interpretation. I was inspired by Amanda's Layout - I really liked how she listed a lot of random things that reminded her of her father and I wanted to do something similar, but with a focus on a few key descriptive words and include one of my favorite photos of my Dad, taken just 4.5 yrs ago before Alzheimer's disease robbed us of him. Here's my digital layout (click on the layout to view it larger if you'd like to read the journaling):

Credits: Boyfriend Jeans by Scrapkitchen Designs (Sweet Shoppe); Template from Collection 8 by Janet Phillips (Sweet Shoppe)

Of course, these aren't the only things that make my Dad who he was - but the small words / phrases are more like little "memory joggers" for me - each of them tells a story from my childhood, each special and significant in it's own way - some funny, some poignant and some just very specific memories I want to hold onto.

Thanks for letting me share this with you today!

17 comments:

sarahw said...

Jen, this is a beautiful page. I am sure it is very difficult to have to go through this with your dad. I lost my dad to cancer 6 years ago and at the end it was very hard to reverse the roles and become that caretaker. I am sure that by scrapbooking happy memories it will help remind you of what an amazing man he was. Hugs, Sarah

Laurel said...

Jen, I am so incredibly sorry. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Those memories you are making will always reminds you of the good times and what an amazing man he was, is and will always be...

Laura (scrapnextras) said...

What a wonderful page and tribute to your Dad. Love every bit of it, from your dialogue to the layout and journalling. We all need to do this before we lose someone. Thanks for jogging my memory too!

Karen Giron said...

Oh Jen, I'm so sorry for all you are going though, especially so young. I love this page you made - it's so YOU! Loved the OP shorts comment, that made me giggle (with love, of course).

Hang in there, friend :)

Susie said...

That's a wonderful, touching page. I lost my Mom a year ago November 6 to Alzheimer's. I understand how you feel. For me, I do remember the awesome woman my Mom was, now that she is gone. I don't think about the difficult times with her but I do get sad remembering how she suffered herself. I miss her very, very much. It's a horrid disease. I'm very glad you are doing this project - it will be meaningful for you for the rest of your life.

Jackie Pedro said...

I think this is so beautiful, Jen! I don't know firsthand about Alzheimer's, but I know your Dad's story and it's terrible that it has robbed him and your family of what should be such a great time in life. {{{{{hugs}}}}}

Katie's Nesting Spot said...

I think this is a beautiful and lasting way to remember your dad the way he would want you to. It's so nice of you to share this with us, you never know one of your readers might need to know about this resource.

Dee Dee said...

A beautiful inspiring tribute. Thanks for sharing this part of yourself.

Justine said...

I sure hope we get to catch up SOON. I can tell in your words and tone how difficult this is for you. Funny how closely connected I feel to you and your family. Perhaps it is your open willingness to share your thoughts and emotions. Thank you Jen for keeping us informed as your family goes through this process. You know there are big Hugz being sent your direction. CALL ME!!!!!

Stephanie Kraft said...

Such a beautiful layout, Jen! How therapeutic for you and a lovely tribute to your dad! HUGS!

Katie Cotton said...

jen i love this! You are such a beautiful person! I admire everything you do!

Simone P. said...

Jen,
I am sorry to hear about your Dad! You made a beautiful page! I will add you and your family to my prayers.

Anthonette said...

Such a great layout remembering who your dad was before the disease. The "poke your eye out" line made me laugh.

Jennifer said...

Jen, what an incredible LO. I love the 'trigger' words/phrases... it's pretty powerful, not only for the reader, but hopefully healing for you too. I'm glad you joined in on this challenge!

sarah said...

awesome page jen, tiare and i were just talking about you and your dad yesterday after we saw you guys driving home. this will be a great keepsake for you and dean both.

Amanda said...

This is fabulous! I love everything about it and am so glad you found us over at the Good Grief blog! Hugs to you as you deal with Alzheimers...I know it's not easy in any way.

Laura said...

This is a wonderful page, Jen! I feel for you and your pain.. I work w/ people suffering w/ Alzheimers and other types of Dementia. I imagine that it is a unique grieving process, given that physically your dad is there but the person he was is not. My dad died about a month ago fairly unexpectedly due to a respiratory failure... thank you for directing your readers to the Grief blog. I am excited to get started on my own scrapbook... I find myself craving anything that will keep me connected to my dad. My thoughts to you:)